Shardul Thakur, who recorded his career-best T20I bowling figures (4-0-27-4) in the fourth match of the ongoing Twenty-20 tri-series against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Monday (March 12), has said that he loves the challenge of stepping in when senior bowlers are missing from the team.
Owing to Thakur’s herculean bowling effort, India managed to restrict Sri Lanka to a paltry total of 159/9 in 19 overs. In reply, Suresh Raina and KL Rahul played good hands for India before Manish Pandey (41*) and Dinesh Karthik (39*) finished the chase with 6 wickets in hand and 9 balls to spare.
“I have told one thing before also, I love challenges. I am taking it as a challenge. When other senior bowlers are missing from the team, I have to step up,” Thakur quoted by Wisden India as saying.
After a 58-day long and daunting tour of South Africa, Indian selectors had decided to rest all their top bowlers for the T20I tri-series. Considering Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s recent showing in international cricket, it is fair to say that Shardul Thakur and company are doing a great job in Sri Lanka.
“I have done this previously for whichever teams I have played for. In the absence of Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ajit Agarkar when I was playing for Mumbai, I had to step up and fit in that role. When senior bowlers are rested, it’s the same situation, I’ve to step in and lead the pace attack,” Shardul added.
Among his four wickets, Thakur scalped the wicket of Sri Lanka’s stand-in skipper Thisara Perera, who started his innings with two consecutive sixes off Washington Sundar. Shardul exploited the knuckle delivery to get rid of Perera on 15.
“[Zaheer] started it actually, but I didn’t watch much of his videos. I always knew what the grip was, and then I learned it on my own,” Thakur said of his knuckle ball.
“I’ve been practicing it for a long time. It hasn’t come easy. Whenever I found time to bowl with the white ball while playing domestic cricket, I used to try the knuckle ball. I tried it in the nets. Probably for two years I’ve been practicing it now,” he explained.
It was India’s back to back victory in the T20I tri-series having lost the tournament opener against Sri Lanka by 5 wickets on March 6. Thakur feels the defeat in the first game against the hosts was an eye-opener for India.
“If you see, in T20 cricket, you have to be ready for surprises. I thought the first game was a surprise and an eye-opener for us. I got hit for 27 runs, there were some other overs that went for 15 runs. But I feel that the game against Bangladesh and in this game, we came back strongly and executed our plans better,” he said.
Thakur also hailed the 18-year-old Washington Sundar, who continued his good form in the tri-series, taking 2 for 21 against Sri Lanka last night.
“He varies his pace very interestingly, he’s got good pace variation. He also tries to spin the ball at times, sometimes he pushes through the air, it’s very amazing to see his pace variations. That’s the key for him,” Shardul Thakur concluded.
The next match in the Twenty-20 tri-series will be played between Bangladesh and India on Wednesday (March 14).